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Centre for Journalism urges University of Kent to reconsider proposals to cut course

A prestigious course has urged a university to not cut its classes and close its building amid financial problems.

KentOnline previously revealed 58 staff have been put at the "risk of redundancy" as nine courses could be “phased out” at the University of Kent's Medway and Canterbury campuses.

Gillingham Building at the University of Kent. Stock picture
Gillingham Building at the University of Kent. Stock picture

Anthropology, art history, comparative literature, English language and linguistics, health and social care, modern languages, music and audio technology, and philosophy and religious studies could all be cut.

The journalism course is also set to be a casualty of the cuts.

A spokesperson for the Centre for Journalism (CfJ) released a statement today (Friday, February 23) urging the university bosses to change their minds.

It reads: “We are facing an existential crisis.

“Despite the CfJ’s success (and growth), the University of Kent’s perilous financial state, culminating in a recent re-negotiation of its debts, means it is having to close departments that it does not think have high growth potential.

“It is planning to sell the Gillingham Building that has housed us since the beginning, and proposing to withdraw journalism as a subject entirely – along with many other subject areas.

“We have been given a very short period to produce ‘counter-proposals’ to stave off the complete closure of the department.”

They have asked former and present students to share messages about their time on the course in the hope of helping their case.

Their statement has been shared multiple times with people branding the proposals “devastating and short-sighted”.

Former student and editor of Journo Resources, Jem Collins, added: “I cannot stress how transformative my time at the CfJ was to my career – without going there, there would be no Journo Resources.”

A collective consultation started on January 30 while an individual consultation for the staff who are at risk of redundancy began the following day.

A University of Kent spokesman said: “Like many in the sector, we are responding to a number of financial challenges including the fixed tuition fee, rising costs and changes in student behaviour.

A consultation is ongoing over proposals to end courses. Stock picture
A consultation is ongoing over proposals to end courses. Stock picture

“As part of this, we are exploring changes to our size and shape to ensure we are well placed to grow in priority areas in the future, which includes phasing out future recruitment in some areas where we no longer feel we can be competitive due to national student number projections.

"We are now in a period of consultation with staff on these proposals, working closely with them and staff and trade union representatives before any final decisions are taken. Our focus in this will be supporting staff being consulted with on the plans, including working to our Redundancy Avoidance Agreement to ensure we prioritise voluntary redundancy, vacancy review and reduced hours as far as possible.

"None of the proposed plans being discussed would impact current students' ability to graduate or complete their courses and as with any proposed organisational changes, we will do everything we can to minimise the impact on their studies."

The news comes after KentOnline revealed the leases of the university’s Rochester and Gillingham buildings in the Medway campus are planned to be handed over to the University of Greenwich as well as 40 voluntary redundancies.

The consultation will end on Thursday (February 29) with no changes being made until then.

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